Freshmen fuel excitement for Pac-12 Championships

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Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:45 pm

Freshmen Emily Weber, Holly Cavalluzzo and Kristiane Width have OSU hoping for top-6 finish this weekend

There’s no question that junior Kinsey Gomez has been Oregon State’s leader this season, but the team wouldn’t be where they are this year without the emergence of three runners who had never run a collegiate cross-country meet prior to this season.

Redshirt freshman Emily Weber and true freshmen Holly Cavalluzzo and Kristiane Width could potentially propel this year’s team into the top half of the Pac-12 if they continue to run the way they’ve run this season.

Being inexperienced can sometimes lead athletes to be intimidated by the skill of other runners, especially when it’s against top competition. It’s not the case with this group, however, according to assistant coach Laura Harmon.

“(Weber, Cavalluzzo and Width) can be so competitive,” Harmon said. “Sometimes they go out and forget who they are racing against, which is a good thing.”

Weber, who redshirted last year, has been a huge addition for the team. She has become the Beavers’ second-most consistent behind Gomez.

“It has been exciting because I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this year,” Weber said.

Gomez has had only great things to say about the group, even admitting that they have taught her a thing or two this year.

“They bring an excitement,” Gomez said. “They are so willing to learn anything and to do whatever they can to be the best that they can be.”

The whole team will have to perform well to finish in the top half at the Pac-12 Championships, which was one of their goals established at the beginning of the season.

It would be Oregon State’s first time doing so since bringing the program back in 2004.

Despite the challenge of racing against the deepest field Oregon State has raced all year, the team feels confident going into the weekend.

The three freshmen feel like their schedule this year has prepared them for the upcoming week.

The team has faced off against Washington, the University of San Francisco and Oregon this season, which are some of the top teams in the nation.

“We are a young group, but we have gained experience throughout the season,” Weber said.

“They have gotten a taste of good competition,” Gomez added.

Their continued success has injected enthusiasm and excitement into the program.

“It’s exciting to see people that are excited everyday,” Gomez said.

This new excitement could also be a useful tool in the continued recruitment of top athletes.

Oregon State’s youth hopes to continue to grow into the future, and has a good chance to do so considering the team will only lose two of its top runners after this year in seniors Sandra Martinez and Taylor Nowlin.

Weber, Cavalluzzo and Width, along with the rest of the Beavers, will compete again this Saturday at the Pac-12 Championships in Louisville, Colo. The meet will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks Monday at 6:30 p.m.

Scott McReynolds, sports reporter

On Twitter @ScottMcReynold4

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